Women live longer than men. That’s a fact. And not just by a couple of years.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women outlive men by a solid five years. A century ago that difference was 2.2 years – and even worse before 1920, because women died in childbirth.

Today, for every 100 American women, there are only 77 men by age 65. Visit an assisted living or nursing home sometime; the few men you will see will be smiling.

Is there a good reason why women can elude the Grim Reaper for an extra half decade? Researchers say there are several biological, behavioral, and societal factors. And there is this: women have what most men don’t - a primary care doctor.

Not only do more women have a primary doctor than men, but women visit their doctors for regular checkups and – sit down for this - when they’re sick. In fact, the CDC says that in general women are 33 percent more likely than men to see a doctor.

We know most of the reasons guys give for not seeing a doctor – time, money, or a personal favorite, being sick isn’t masculine. Like being dead from a curable illness is. A 2019 Cleveland Clinic study found that 65% of men who have symptoms or an injury tend to wait as long as possible to see a doctor. A whopping 72% of men ages 35 to 5 4 were even more likely to tough it out as long as possible.

Even more ridiculous, the study found that 72% of men would rather do household chores like cleaning the bathroom than go to the doctor.

A new significant other

It’s time to man up and find a great primary care doctor, someone you can build a long, lasting relationship with.

As relationships go, the one with your doctor should rank right behind your significant other and children. You want you this person to become part of the fabric of your life. The better your relationship with your doctor, the more likely he or she – yeah, get over it - will recognize that you don’t look quite right or pick up otherwise a subtle sign of an illness.

The doctor/patient relationship is built on trust, because you literally are trusting her with your life. If that happens, you’ll feel a lot more comfortable when asked to turn your head and cough or lay on your left side in the fetal position.

Finding Dr. Right

To find Dr. Right, you have to be an educated health care consumer. So do some research and look for the Four Cs in choosing a doctor - caring, competence, compassionate, and compulsiveness.

Most major hospitals have websites that list their physicians and specialties. But the best way to find a doctor is still the old-fashioned way – word-of-mouth. And that word can come via text, email, carrier pigeon.

Once you have a name, contact the office to find out if the practice is taking new patients. If the answer is yes, ask if it accepts your insurance. You’ll want to know the doctor’s hospital affiliation and privileges, in case you have to be admitted, and how long he has been in practice.

There are pluses and minuses in choosing a young doctor. On the plus side it will be easier to get an appointment with someone building a practice. But a young physician probably won’t be as nimble maneuvering around the system as an older doctor who has friends and colleagues at every level. Then again, while a young doctor may lack experience, he may be hard-wired into the latest medical information.

So while age may be a consideration in choosing your doctor, it shouldn’t be the deciding factor.

Expect your first visit to a new doctor to take a while. What should you expect? You want the doctor to be completely focused on you. Does he or she listen to your physical and emotional concerns and take the time to discuss the details with you?

Next is the physical examination. It is a dying art but still an important part of patient care. The concept of a physician’s “laying on of hands” dates back to Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine. Hippocrates, who lived in the 5th century, BC, believed that by placing his hands on a patient he could draw away pain from the body.

Along with giving the doctor valuable information to be able to assess you, the laying on of hands today is the main way doctor and patient build trust. So, like it or not, you want a doctor to “lay hands” on you during a physical.

Can a thorough physical examination be completed in seven or eight minutes? No, and you don’t want to be the patient of a doctor who says it can. This would be analogous to a baseball player batting o-for-four, only striking out on caring, competence, compassion, and compulsiveness. This type of visit requires 30 minutes of yours, and the physician’s time.

When the physical is finished, the doctor should review everything that happened during the visit, and discuss and schedule follow-up appointments and those with specialists. You also should expect a phone call to discuss results of any blood tests taken.

On a parting note, maybe you should think of finding a primary this way: It’ll be another step toward establishing equality between the sexes.